Several ministers demanded the restoration of the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) funds even as two legislations to reduce the salary and allowances of Union ministers and Members of Parliament (MP) were passed in Rajya Sabha on Friday.
Parliament Affairs minister Prahlad Joshi moved the Bill to amend the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954, while Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy moved the Salaries and Allowances of Ministers (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
Both the bills aim to reduce the salaries and emoluments of ministers and MPs in view of the resource crunch because of Covid-19, and were passed with a voice vote.
Earlier, several members of Parliament questioned the government’s decision to do away with MPLADS funds for two years, saying these were funds spent on the needs of the people, especially for local demands which would otherwise be ignored.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad (Cong) said it was credit-worthy that members of Parliament were willing to take a salary cut even though a majority of them were solely dependent on their pay.
He, however, added that MPLADS was a fund that belonged to the people. If MPLADS had to be curtailed, it could have been for a period lesser than two years, Azad said. “I would request that… it (MPLADS) should be done away with only for one year, and that too only half of it, and the rest should be provided to the MPs,” Azad said.
Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD) said the central vista project appeared like a luxury at this time of severe resource crunch and added that the new parliament building in the offing should be put on hold as should the governments ad-spend.
YSRCP member V Vijaisai Reddy had another suggestion—to cut the salaries of and penalise members who disrupt the House.
Joshi said MPLADS funds or the central vista were not within the scope of the bill.